Picture framing jigs

I’ve been to busy with work lately to get much time in the shop, but now that things are starting to settle, I plan on getting some serious shop time in.  I have a lot of projects planed for this summer, and the first one is to make picture frames for some posters I bought this spring. I’ve been avoiding picture frames for a long time, because they usually involve miters. In my opinion miters are one of the most difficult joints in woodworking, because small errors are very visible. After some research, I have decided to use the following jigs to get perfect miters.

The first thing required for perfect miters joints, is cutting “complimentary” miters.  For a picture frame you want to miters that add up to 90 degrees. If one miter is 46 degrees and the other is 44 degrees your good to go. Two 45’s is ideal, but in this case, close is good enough. The best way to get complimentary miters, is with a miter sled. For my sled I used 1/2″ MDF for the base, quarter sawn white oak for the runners, and some scrap Poplar for the fences. To align the fences to the saw kerf, I used my Woodpeckers Precision 12″ triangle.

After you’ve cut all the miters, you have to glue them together. For me, the glue up is where things get a little stressful. Thankfully the glue up can be less stressful with the proper jig. I Used some Woodpeckers precision clamping squares and MDF to make alignment jigs. The jigs provide a 90 degree reference angle, and a good surface to apply clamping pressure to.

Technically your finished after the miters are glued up. However a mitered joint is an end-grain to en-grain bond, as as you may know end-grain joints aren’t as strong as long-grain joints.To ensure the joint doesn’t fail for years to come, it’s best to reinforce it with a key (also called a feather). A key is just a chunk of wood that’s inserted in to a slot cut across the outside of the miter. The best way to make the slot, is with a simple jig on a table saw mounted with a flat ground blade.

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